House planning system in the UK ‘underperforming’ says government watchdog

The government’s planning system for housing is majorly underperforming, according to a report today from the National Audit Office (NAO).

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government is a government department which aims to support the delivery of 300,000 new homes per year.

To increase the supply of accommodation, the Department has implemented reforms to the planning system to help local authorities in England determine how many, where and what type of new homes should be built.

‘Likely to fail’

The government watchdog NAO, stated that “50% of local authorities likely to fail the ‘housing delivery test’ in 2020 for not building enough homes,” meaning that penalties could be faced.

Local authorities have also seen their planning staff drop by 15% between 2006-16, resulting in higher pressure on existing staff.

In 2017-18, the Government managed to build a total of 222,000 homes across the country, however it plans to build 300,000 per year for the next until mid 2020. If achieved, it would result in around 1,800,000 new residences.

In December last year, only 44.1% of local authorities had an “up-to-date local plan setting out their strategies for meeting the need for new homes, despite it being a legislative requirement”.

If a local authority can’t show that it has a five-year supply of land for housing, developers have greater freedoms to build where they want, risking inappropriate developments.

In November 2018, the Department had only challenged 15 out of 152 local authorities that didn’t have an recent plan.

To create new homes and places for people to live, infrastructure such as transport, healthcare, schools and utilities must also be built. However, the government departments aren’t required to collaborate with local authorities to plan funding for this and the costs are uncertain.

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Brittany Tijou-Smith

Brittany is a third year Multimedia Journalism student, her work has been featured on KentLive and KentOnline. Her filming work also won ‘Documentary of the Year 2018’ at Canterbury Christ Church University.

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